Friday, 5 March 2021

Croatian Police and Deminers Rescue Several Migrants From Minefield

ZAGREB, 5 March, 2021 - Police and deminers yesterday and today rescued several illegal migrants whose lives were in jeopardy in the mine field in Saborsko municipality, after one migrant was killed and several sustained injuries in a landmine blast, the Interior Ministry (MUP) said on Friday evening.

Members of Lučko Anti-Terrorist Unit yesterday searched the area by helicopter and then warned migrants that they were in a mine suspected area and should stay in place until help arrives. Deminers of Lučko Anti-Terrorist Unit this morning started to inspect the field and create a safe corridor for evacuation and ten persons were rescued and offered medical help.

MUP said in the press release that a group of foreign nationals had illegally reached Croatia and entered a mine suspected area in a forest area in municipality Saborsko. There, a younger man stepped on an unidentified explosive device and died, while other persons from the group sustained injuries in the blast. After receiving a report, police officers found one man dead and one injured, while the rest of the group went away in unknown direction.

According to the interior ministry, at the moment six persons have an intention to make an application for international protection in Croatia, while other persons are in medical care due to having sustained injuries.The life of one of them is in danger.

The Ministry of the Interior and Croatian police, it is recalled, have been intensively underscoring the dangers of illegal migrations since 2018, especially warning of the danger of mine suspected areas, severe winter conditions in the mountains and rivers.

Friday, 29 January 2021

VIDEO: Prohibition-Era Nightclubbing Zagreb, 33 Fined

January 29, 2021 – It has all the ingredients of a movie about Al Capone or Lucky Luciano in 1920s Chicago - illicit, hidden drinking dens, dancing girls, bullets, guns, gangsters and a police raid, only with a neon lighting scheme that remains fashionable strictly in Balkan clubs. Welcome to Prohibition-era nightclubbing Zagreb

It has all the ingredients of a movie about Al Capone (main picture) or Lucky Luciano in 1920s Chicago - illicit, hidden drinking dens, dancing girls, bullets, guns, gangsters and a police raid, only with a neon lighting scheme that remains fashionable strictly in Balkan clubs. Welcome to Prohibition-era nightclubbing Zagreb.

Croatian police have issued a video of a raid they undertook to shut down a Prohibition-era nightclubbing party in Zagreb. Inside the venue, they found 33 persons. None were wearing masks.

One young man at the party was caught with a pistol and bullets. If it weren't for the police's modern helmets with visors and the Balkan-cool neon lighting, you could be forgiven for thinking you were watching Eliot Ness and The Untouchables busting an illegal speakeasy. All cafes, restaurants, bars and nightclubs are supposed to be closed at the moment under measures adopted to counter the spread of Coronavirus.

Screenshot_129.pngThe pistol found by police while conducting a search on a 24-year-old at the club - Youtube screenshot

In the original era of America's Prohibition, under which the production, import, transportation, and sale of alcoholic beverages was illegal, Al Capone ultimately received an 11-year prison sentence for tax evasion and Lucky Luciano was looking at 30 - 50 years until he struck a deal and agreed to be deported to Italy. Thankfully, there are no mafia murders connected to this tale of Prohibition-era nightclubbing in Zagreb.

Depiction of an illicit nightclub - a speakeasy - in Prohibition-era America from the classic 1976 Alan Parker-directed children's movie and musical 'Bugsy Malone'

In addition to the video, the police released a statement about the prohibition-era nightclubbing raid:

"During the operation, a total of 33 people were found, identified and checked in said facility. No coercive measures were used during the actions of the police officers. 33 people were found not wearing protective masks, which is why the police officers issued them three Notices of Misdemeanor and 30 fines were collected for violations of Article 47, paragraph 2, item 9 of the Law on the Protection of the Population from Infectious Diseases.

Furthermore, for one of the caught persons, a 24-year-old was searched and a gas pistol was found in his possession, for which he was issued a Mandatory Misdemeanor Order for the offence under Article 27, paragraph 2 of the Law on procurement and possession of weapons by citizens.

Screenshot_139.pngBullets found by the police at the prohibition-era nightclubbing scene in Zagreb

Also, officials of the Directorate of Civil Protection found violations of epidemiological measures contrary to the Decision on necessary epidemiological measures restricting gatherings and introducing other necessary epidemiological measures and recommendations to prevent the transmission of Covid-19 through gatherings. Due to performing catering activities contrary to the decisions of the Civil Protection Headquarters, officials of the State Inspectorate, Tourist Inspection, Zagreb Regional Office found a violation of Article 9A of the Catering Act and issued an oral decision banning the work, and the facility was sealed for at least 30 days. Misdemeanor proceedings will be initiated against the legal and responsible person.

As part of the criminal investigation, the 45-year-old owner of a catering facility was taken to the official premises of the Zagreb Police Administration for a criminal investigation on suspicion of having committed the criminal offence of "Spreading and Transmitting an Infectious Disease" under Article 180. He will be handed over to the custody supervisor after the criminal investigation is completed”

Prohibition in the United States took place in a 13 year period between 1920 and 1933. It is highly unlikely that the bars and cafes of Zagreb will be asked to remain closed for such a length of time. This is not the first instance of Prohibition-era nightclubbing taking place irrespective of epidemiological guidelines in Zagreb. In late November 2020, Croatian media (including Juarnji List) widely reported on police raids that took place at two Zagreb venues, even though measures adopted in the fight against the pandemic were at that time more relaxed.

Tuesday, 19 January 2021

45 People With Fake PCR Tests Detained At Croatian Border In One Weekend

January 19, 2021 – 45 people tried to enter Croatia with fake PCR tests this weekend alone. They were caught by Croatian police, detained at the border and reported to the State's Attorney office. If found guilty, each faces a maximum penalty of three years in prison

Some 45 people tried to enter Croatia through the borders of one county with fake PCR tests this past weekend.

Travel from Bosnia and Herzegovina into Croatia currently requires the production of a negative PCR test or a doctor's certificate proving you have successfully passed through a COVID-19 infection in recent months.

Since the ban on entering Croatia from Bosnia and Herzegovina without a negative PCR test was introduced, fake PCR tests are increasingly being forged. Border police and customs officers at crossings in Brod-Posavina County have met many people trying to cross the border with fake PCR tests. But, this weekend a new record number of forged tests were found on the county's border crossings.

According to a statement from the Brod-Posavina Police Department, as many as 45 attempts to enter the country with fake PCR tests were discovered on Saturday and Sunday.

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"At the Stara Gradiška border crossing, police officers determined that 43 persons, mostly citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina, presented fake PCR tests issued in BiH at the border control. At the Slavonski Brod border crossing, two people were registered who gave forged tests," the Brod-Posavina police reported.

Police officers file criminal charges against all those suspected of committing the criminal offence of forgery of a document with the Municipal State Attorney's Office in Slavonski Brod. If found guilty, such persons face up to three years in prison.

The overall number of people detained on Croatia's border with fake PCR tests this weekend could actually be higher - the figures of 45 persons detained with fake PCR tests were released by the police of just one county in Croatia - Brod-Posavina County. A further eight Croatian counties exist along the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina. Each has border crossings between the two countries.

Tuesday, 13 October 2020

PHOTOS: Before & After - How HNK Afterhours Lost Its Cool

ZAGREB October 13, 2020 – Since early June 2020, the Croatian National Theatre Zagreb has served as a nightly meeting point for the city's youths. In these pictures and video we see the incredible youth phenomenon as it once was and also how HNK afterhours lost its cool

Built in 1895, the Croatian National Theatre Zagreb (HNK Zagreb) is one of the finest pieces of architecture in a city not short on fine Austro-Hungarian buildings. Sitting in the middle of Republic of Croatia Square, it is the focal point of Lower Town. A multi-purpose space, it has world-class opera and ballet companies in-house.

image (1).jpg© David Bakarić

This week, several media outlets have reported on the gathering of youths outside the theatre, especially on weekend nights. While an interesting read, including the thoughts of a sociologist, these stories are a bit out of date. Because the truth is, the party is over - HNK afterhours lost its cool many weeks ago.

BEFORE

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© Marc Rowlands

In early June, when the three-month Coronavirus lockdown finally ended, HNK Zagreb became the de facto meeting point for Zagreb youth. It all happened rather spontaneously. There were no advertisements. Word spread from peer-to-peer and young people from as far away as Rijeka, Ivanic-grad and Zabok made the journey to take part in the youth culture phenomenon.

image (2).jpg© David Bakarić

image (7).jpg© Marc Rowlands

It was a joyful scene - thousands of people from every youth tribe imaginable; punk and metal fans, sports students, classical musicians, football fans, young patriots, LGBT teens, devout Christians and kids who would usually go to the cajke (folk music) club sat side-by-side. It was good-natured. Everyone was glad to be out of the house and be able to meet their peers. Everyone got along.

image (11).jpg© David Bakarić

image (6).jpg© David Bakarić

image5.jpeg© David Bakarić

image3.jpeg© David Bakarić

Impromptu theatre performances and music concerts took place. Soundsystems were set up. There was laughter, music, dancing and all round good cheer.

image (8).jpg© David Bakarić

image (10).jpg© David Bakarić

'We are extremely happy and positive that our theatre has been recognized as a place of gathering and sharing positive vibrations between generations,' an official from the Croatian National Theatre Zagreb told this journalist when approached to comment on HNK afterhours. 'Ever since 2014, our hope was to create a warm and welcoming feeling here for everybody, for all age groups and different audiences; to make theatre alive outside the building walls.'

image9.jpegResponsible young partygoers cleaned up after themselves in early June. Those cool kids have long since disappeared from HNK afterhours © David Bakarić

AFTER

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HNK afterhours lost its cool many weeks ago. Becoming an expected rather than a spontaneous gathering was perhaps its death knell. That, and the fact that although everyone knew hundreds were gathering there, no provisions were made for these socialising young people. With no other option on Republic of Croatia Square, the bushes and gardens around the theatre became their toilets.

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It was instantly noticeable when HNK afterhours lost its cool - all of the cool kids just stopped coming. What was once a representation of all the city's youth tribes dwindled to a hardcore few hundred of late-night drinkers with nothing better to do and no place else to go. The theatre and most of the music stopped.

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Then the violence, graffiti and vandalism began. The excessive drinking was one major sign of youth insecurity – people not entirely comfortable with themselves within large groups got drunk to ease their discomfort. Then, they threw up in the bushes. But the violence and graffiti were greater signs of insecurity and immaturity.

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Like dogs urinating on street corners to mark their territory, mindless graffiti 'tags' appeared all over the Croatian National Theatre Zagreb – its steps, its windows, its antique doors. In an effort to leave a permanent mark, the insignificant few seemed determined to destroy everything that had once been joyful and good-natured about this gathering.

Zagreb police intervene when one drunken male started to physically abuse some of his peers. Present at the scene, this journalist commented to a friend that the police had acted bravely. The peer commented that the police had looked scared. They were surrounded by hundreds of spectators to the violence.

You can now guarantee there will be some violence outside the theatre on every weekend night. Zagreb police, who have shown remarkable patience and restraint throughout the whole phenomenon, sit far from the crowd and let the youngsters party. However, Zagreb Police Administration have said that from May 1 to September 30, the police intervened around the Croatian National Theatre Zagreb about 50 times, based on allegations of possible disturbance of public order and peace. In an effort to perhaps try and understand the frustrations of youths at this time, they have filed misdemeanor charges against only six people. This, despite a small, insecure and immature male section of the crowds flexing their muscles against smaller peers – or the police themselves – on a nightly basis. A small cabal of latecomers are ruining the reputation of a youth culture movement which deserves to be much better remembered.

121554186_337487367535021_1901937487742305067_n.jpg121528825_822783415210126_2612493705426715970_n.jpgA young man shows the marks around both eyes that he received in an unprovoked attack at HNK afterhours on the weekend of 9 October 2020

When you're young, it can be difficult to hear that the party is over. After you've had such a good time, you don't want to go home. You want the good times to last forever. But, this party is well and truly finished. HNK afterhours lost its cool many, many weeks ago. It is a rather sad remnant of something that was beautiful while it lasted. But, now it is time for the party to move elsewhere or for the attendees to go home. This beautiful building, its grounds and surrounding residents have played host for long enough. They each deserve a break.

The use of uncredited photographs in this article was granted on condition that the submitting photographers remain anonymous

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Monday, 12 October 2020

BREAKING NEWS: Policeman Shot on St Marks Square in Zagreb

ZAGREB October 12, 2020 – Policeman shot on St Marks Square in Zagreb just after 8 am this morning...

UPDATE: 22-year-old Danijel Bezuk from Kutina has been identified as the Zagreb shooter. Read more...

Developing news: Policeman shot on St Marks Square in Zagreb just after 8 am this morning. As of 8.35 am, the perpetrator was still on the run. Some media outlets were reporting that the armed man was hiding inside one of the museums in the upper town. However, by 9 am, media outlets were reporting that the attacker was dead, apparently from a self-inflicted gunshot. Unconfirmed reports say that a Kalashnikov was used in the shooting and that a burst of gunfire rang out at 8 am during the incident of the policeman shot on St Marks Square.

508088be-09ad-4331-8cde-76a5971998ee.jpgN1 TV screenshot. The broadcaster was one of the first to detail the incident of a policeman shot on St Mark's Square in Zagreb

The policeman shot on St Marks square in Zagreb was injured and has been taken to hospital. No details regarding his condition have yet been released. Armed police in bullet-proof vests have now replaced him and are surrounding government buildings in the Upper Town. The search for the shooter has now been called off. The Croatian Prime Minister has arrived at the government buildings in the Upper Town. He did not yet make any comment to reporters. He is said to have looked shocked upon arrival.

This is a very uncommon attack with a firearm in one of the best-guarded areas of the capital. This morning's incident of the policeman shot on St Marks Square in Zagreb is also an extremely rare incident of a gun being used against the police in the Croatian capital.

The policeman shot on St Marks Square underwent surgery at Zagreb's KBC Sestre Milosrdnice. The 31-year-old policeman works as a personal security officer for the government. His condition is now described as stable.

Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković addressed gathered journalists on St Marks Square at 10.30 am. No motive for the attack has so far been ascertained. It is thought the gunman intended to fire upon the buildings and that the guarding policeman shot on St Marks square was not the actual intended target.

This is a breaking news story and Total Croatia News will be updating this article as more details are released

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Saturday, 5 September 2020

Firefighters Malinois Belgian Shepherd Sniffs Out Wanted Man in Split

Saturday, 5 September 2020 – More than 100 policemen were searching for the escaped man, but in the end it was a firefighters Malinois Belgian Shepherd that sniffed him out.

When detainee Branimir Čaleta managed to escape from custody on September 2, armed police were immediately on his tail. They knew where to look – he was seen running in the direction of Turska kula and the Park Mladosti in Split, near the Poljud football stadium.

But, though more than 100 officers were searching for the wanted man, in the end, it was a firefighters Malinois Belgian Shepherd called Flip that sniffed him out.

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The Malinois Belgian Shepherd is used by armed services, the police and for search and rescue all over the world © TC Perch

Details of Flip's assistance were revealed in an interview undertaken with the dog's handler, Split firefighter Joško Čule by the 24 sata news outlet. Although he was not allowed to reveal details of the fugitive's capture, Joško did speak about his dog.

Flip is a search dog of the Public Fire Brigade of the City of Split, a firefighters Malinois Belgian Shepherd. He was trained to search in all environments, from urban areas and ruins to wild nature, and in all weather conditions. He is a family dog, loves spending time with children, and with the firefighters. He is an active member of the firefighting team in Split and works every day. Flip is taken into the field when necessary and has so far participated in four searches for lost people. He found them all.

This firefighters Malinois Belgian Shepherd is just one of the types of Belgian Shepherd. The other three are called Groenendael, Laekenois, and Tervuren. In Belgium, their country of origin, all four types are considered to be varieties of a single breed, differentiated by hair color and texture. Elsewhere, they are sometimes considered separate breeds.

Flip, the firefighters Malinois Belgian Shepherd is typical in having tan to brown short hair with patches of black. Belgian Shepherd Dogs are highly intelligent, alert, and sensitive to everything going on around them, and they form very strong relationship bonds. They are loyal, intelligent, fun, make good family pets and are very receptive to being trained, thus explaining the position of this firefighters Malinois Belgian Shepherd.

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A Belgian Shepherd with a close relative, a Dutch Shepherd © Marius Zopole 

It is not only firefighters who use these dogs. They are used as search and rescue dogs by other services and as police and military dogs. They have a good reputation as sniffer dogs, particularly in the field of finding illegal drugs. Several Malinois Belgian Shepherds have been decorated for bravery. They are very protective of their owners and handlers.

The US Secret Service, Israel Defense Forces, Indian NSG commando unit and Royal Australian Air Force use Malinois Belgian Shepherds in their work. The breed is second in number only to the German Shepherd for use across the whole of the US Armed Forces.

The fugitive Branimir Čaleta ran away from police while he was at court in Split, where he was appearing charged with the murder of his one-time girlfriend, a Ukrainian national. Čaleta is now back in custody, thanks to Flip, the firefighters Malinois Belgian Shepherd.

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Saturday, 13 June 2020

Police Arrest Six Over Hate Speech Banner

ZAGREB, June 13, 2020 - Zagreb police are investigating six persons suspected of displaying an insulting banner that incited to ethnic violence against Serb women and children.

The criminal investigation is being conducted in cooperation with the Municipal Prosecutor's Office, police said on Saturday.

Police said on Friday they arrested four persons linked to the hate speech banner displayed in the Kustosija neighborhood on Thursday.

A photo appeared on social media on Friday morning, showing several Dinamo football club supporters holding a banner which said "We will f..k Serb women and children" and the letter "u" turned into the Ustasha symbol. They also displayed flags of the HOS militia from the 1991-1995 Homeland War.

The photo was posted on social media by the Serb National Council. Prime Minister Andrej  Plenkovic condemned it on the same day and Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic said police would solve any case of incitement to violence and ethnic intolerance.

Friday, 12 June 2020

Minister: Police Will Solve Every Case of Incitement to Ethnic Intolerance

ZAGREB, June 12, 2020 - The police have launched an investigation into the appearance of a banner with vulgar and abusive messages against Serb children and women at a football match in a Zagreb suburb, Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic said on Friday.

Minister Bozinovic also reassured the public that the police would solve this case just as any case of incitement to violence and ethnic intolerance.

The banner with a vulgar invective against Serb women and children was raised by spectators on the stands during a football match in Zagreb's Kustosija neighborhood on Thursday.

Asked by the press whether law enforcement authorities had identified the perpetrators, Bozinovic said today that the police were one of the institutions that "very promptly" informed the general public of their activities and that they would share the information when they could do that.

The minister again refused media outlets' allegations about reports of police brutality against illegal migrants along the border.

I have recently pointed out very resolutely that the Croatian police do not treat anyone brutally. "The Croatian police protect the Croatian border and prevent illegal arrivals," he underscored during his visit to the northern town of Prelog.

"In any case, our message is that we will abide by the law, including national and European laws, and nobody can stop us from protecting the Croatian border against illegal entries, regardless of where those pressures come from," the minister said.

He said that those who disseminate allegations about red crosses being sprayed by Croatian police officers on the heads of migrants during the month of Ramadan were ill-intentioned both towards migrants and Croatia.

Friday, 12 June 2020

Ministry: Croatian Police Accused of Injuring Migrants Without Proof Again

ZAGREB, June 12, 2020 - The Interior Ministry on Thursday dismissed allegations which, it said in a press release, accuse Croatian police, by established practice and without evidence, of injuring migrants.

The ministry was responding to an Amnesty International press release which said that Croatian police "tortured" a group of asylum-seekers on the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The ministry said, "this time the alleged police action occurred in late May in the Plitvice Lakes area and on this occasion illegal Afghan and Pakistani migrants were tied to trees, mistreated with a knife, by shooting in the air and to the ground, beaten with pistol grips and eventually had ketchup, mayonnaise, and sugar smeared on their hair."

"We reject the notion that a Croatian police officer would do something like that or have a motive for that," the ministry said.

It recalled that "in the previous version of the accusations" police allegedly sprayed crosses on migrants' heads. "The crosses allegedly had some symbolism that one wanted to use in the month of Ramadan, but now the symbolism of ketchup, mayonnaise, and sugar eludes us."

"If the men wearing black, as has been insinuated, are supposed to be members of the Croatian Special Police, we recall that it is they who deserve credit for rescuing many illegal migrants, women, and children on inaccessible Croatian mountains in the most inhospitable terrain. Should this be a reason to directly attack and call them out?"

The ministry urged "all those who want facts" to pay attention to actual events, fights among migrants in camps in Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as media reports on the injuring of migrants and the accidents and injuries that happen to them along the way.

"Since this latest theory mentions late May, we draw attention to the fact that on May 28, close to the Croatian border, in Cazin, migrants clashed among themselves near the village of Sturlic, and that the police were notified by a local," the ministry said referring to locations in Bosnia.

A representative of the Bosnian Interior Ministry confirmed that a police patrol found two dead men on the scene and that they had visible knife injuries, and Bosnian police established that a number of migrants were injured in that clash, the ministry added.

The people who meet migrants on a daily basis as part of their work know well the pattern of their fights, notably among Afghans and Pakistanis, the ministry said. "However, despite all of the above, all the public accusations need to be checked and they will be in this case too."

Friday, 5 June 2020

CMS Files Criminal Complaint Against Police Over Degrading Treatment of Refugees

ZAGREB, June 5, 2020 - The Centre for Peace Studies (CMS) on Friday filed a criminal complaint against unidentified police officers on the suspicion of degrading treatment and torture of 33 people, including two children, and their violent and unlawful expulsion from Croatia.

All the victims suffered torture and degrading treatment at the hands of the police, and according to their testimonies, police even marked them by spraying the top of their heads with orange paint.

"The lives of women, men, children, and families are threatened in this country on a daily basis. Refugees, by coming here to seek protection, as a rule, expose themselves to even greater risk. This risk is posed by the practice of police officers who illegally and violently expel people who are fleeing persecution," Antonia Pindulic, a lawyer for the CMS, warned at a press conference.

"In doing so, police use batons and guns, strip them naked in the middle of woods, taking away even their shoes, and this has been going on for nearly four years now," Pindulic said, adding that a new degrading practice was added in May as the police started marking refugees and other migrants.

"She said that in addition to the criminal complaint the CMS was ready to take other legal steps to protect the lives and dignity of those people.

The criminal complaint provides a detailed description of injuries inflicted, photographs and testimonies, and names many of the victims and witnesses.

The CMS demands that the State Attorney's Office (DORH) investigates the cases and punishes the perpetrators. It also wants the new leadership of the DORH to recognize the gravity of the alleged crimes and act in accordance with the law, thus breaking the practice of the previous leadership. 

"The police and the victims agree on one point, that there are no police records of these cases, which is not surprising because these are deliberate violations of rights and police officers are suspected of committing a series of crimes," Pindulic said.

After the tens of thousands of cases documented by video recordings, photographs, and testimonies, including testimonies by police officers themselves, the lawyer believes that such cases are not an exception but a rule.

"It is clear that this is a political decision and systematic violence and it must be brought to an end," Pindulic said, adding that she expected the police to abide by the law and the DORH to investigate the allegations of serious violations of the law.

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